Cover image for Central Asia's new states : independence, foreign policy, and regional security
Central Asia's new states : independence, foreign policy, and regional security
Olcott, Martha Brill, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : United States Institute of Peace Press, 1996.
Physical Description:
xv, 202 pages : map ; 23 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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DK859.5 .O43 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Recipient of "Outstanding Academic Book" Award "CHOICE, " 2006With breathtaking speed, the republics of the former Soviet Union have been transformed into independent states expected to perform their own foreign policy functions. Yet many of these republics have little experience in foreign relations, and their appearance on the international stage may upset power balances in regions that are already unstable.The new Central Asian states in particular are becoming of increasing interest to the West, because of their enormous resource base, especially oil and gas; their large, mostly Muslim, population; and their relative proximity to the volatile Middle East. But there is a dearth of informed analysis on this much misunderstood region.This timely volume helps fill that gap by closely examining the developing foreign policies of the Central Asia republics especially Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. It describes in detail how they handled their transitions to statehood and draws important conclusions about the implications for regional and international peace and security."

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This is the best monograph on the five new republics of Central Asia to appear since Graham E. Fuller's Central Asia: The New Geopolitics (Rand report R-4219-USDP, 1992). Olcott's expertise is evident throughout the book (trained in Soviet studies, she specialized in the history and politics of Central Asia). She focuses on Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kirghizia, discussing Tajikistan in the chapter on Uzbekistan to demonstrate the designs of Tashkent on that country, especially its northern salient. This emphasizes one of the book's main themes, the irredentist fears and distrust all five republics feel toward each other and toward Russia. Olcott stresses that such fears, plus their own dictatorial regimes, do not make promising the futures of the economically weak, technologically and capital dependent, politically fragmented, socioculturally bifurcated, and ethnically divided Central Asian republics. Russia continues to dominate their economies (especially oil and natural gas), armed forces, and intelligence apparatuses. But Olcott questions whether Russia will again become as involved in the affairs of the republics as during the Soviet period, doubting that Russia wants to incur the direct welfare, environmental, and water shortage costs. Olcott is pessimistic about the future territorial and political viability of the republics; they can expect little aid from the US or Europe, both of whom support Russian control of its "near and abroad." The republics' Muslim neighbors (e.g., Iran and Turkey) are bogged down with their own wars, development, and foreign policies. This integrated, cogently argued, and well-written book will be ideal for courses on the Middle East, Russia, or Islamic or international studies. Academic readers. R. W. Olson University of Kentucky